MY SAY : Make It A Doable Security Option

About the author:

Mataeliga Pio Sioa, Newsline Samoa newspaper editor. A veteran journalist in broadcast and print media.

  • Tafaigata Prison Gate
    Tafaigata Prison Gate

Not again!  Are they really that helpless to do anything about it? 

These protesting remarks would probably sum up the general public reaction to the unpleasant surprise of another prisoner who jumped the prison fence this week.

What makes it all the more unbelievable is that the bolter is a 59-year-old murder and drug convict.  

How his aging body can hold up to the physical pounding of going on the run and being hotly pursed is of interest.

Highly doubtful he will be as durable as many of the much younger prisoners before him, who dashed off for a short taste of the free world.

Pati Chong Nee who is still at large is younger by more than twice his age.  Still, you can never tell with these hard men who are pushed to the extreme by physical and mental burdens of being kept under confinement.

There is  no telling how far they are prepared to push their limits and what risks they threatened to the safety and wellbeing of the innocent.

The Pacific Games in a few weeks time is going to put Samoa under the microscope. 

We all know what that means. Should we worry about security?

Our 700-member police force cannot cope on their own for the Games so 100 auxiliary officers are being recruited to give them a helping hand.

While they are being stretched to the limit, pray that any prison breakout while the Games are in progress for the scheduled two weeks, is not going to be more than just an embarrassment.

The prisoner who went on the run this week was reportedly part of a working group at the new Tanumalala Prison.

The new tightly secured prison compound is basically completed except for landscaping and roads work outside the fully enclosed confinement area.

The word is that the compound is ready right now to have the prisoners re-located from the old and badly leaking ‘ Tafaigata Prison.’

Why not move them there now? Could that be the reason why they were sending out working parties that included the one that resulted in this latest prisoner escape?

 If the Tanumalala actual imprisonment compound is ready is that not a more secure option?

We can lock up the prisoners 24/7 at Tafaigata Prison for the duration of the Games but it is possible there maybe legal issues with the violation of basic human rights.

We could look into shipping all of them off to Vaiaata Prison in Savai’i for two weeks.  

While imprisoned on the island would calling on the traditional authority of the village ‘ali’i ma faipule’ to help with the policing be a doable option?

If the Prison and Correctional Authority is unable to even keep a near 60-year-old inmate from ‘tottering’ off down the road, then it is going to be quite hard to trust any official defence of the security lapses.

Only a few weeks ago suspects remanded in custody at Tafaigata Prison, overpowered a prison security officer and took off from the holding cell in the heart of the prison compound.

Please no more bleating about ‘doing our best’!

The next person who says that should be locked up in a dark prison cell with the keys conveniently lost until the Games are done and all our guests safely back home.

So now we wait.  What is the likely option we can sleep better with?  

We are too civilized to offer a dead or alive bounty on escaped prisoners as it was done back in the wild frontier days, so it is very unlikely to be a doable option.

What if that is the best option?

We don’t have very many doable options left.